Marcia handles the 'Town' end of things while I handle the Barra de Kwanza end. This leaves me responsible for the construction works, maintenance of vehicles, generator and buildings, cooking, cleaning and looking after however many kids are under our charge at any one time.
Currently I am responsible for three very boisterous boys. Like all boys, they fight constantly and over anything. I do like the classic car programmes we get here and the boys let me watch them (there's only about one every two days) but they will see a lime green sixties Lamborghini Muira and shout out, 'That's my car!' and then fight over who claimed it first. They clearly have good (and sadly expensive) taste when it comes to classic cars but it is a real pain in the arse peeling them apart.
Today, on my list, was sorting out the oven which I think has an electrical short, the supply to the ice cream machine which I know has an electrical short because the dick head in the shop tried to tap off its supply to plug something in he should not have (two unearthed wires to power a television), service the Jeep and check progress on the third site. These are all routine items. What I really wanted to do was perfect my drink for alcoholics. Just as it is with cigarettes, alcohol consumption is habitual as well as addictive. A cup of coffee can only be enjoyed with a cigarette. Sitting behind a keyboard and typing requires the lubricant of both alcohol and cigarettes.
I shall substitute the cigarettes with E Cigarettes. A mate of mine brought some in from UK and says they are brilliant. He hasn't smoked a real fag since he started. Given that he was a chain smoker, I was mightily impressed, and pissed off to the eyeballs he failed to think of me when he made his purchase in UK. When he told me he felt so much better, I wanted to kill him.
My rowing machine will only get here in the New Year so I need a substitute, with a real kick, to stop me schlurping the whisky juice every five minutes. I have the ingredients. It will take me two days to make it so I really wanted to get cracking.
So I indulged the boys. I chased them around the garden. I gave them jobs to do that they would like such as collecting coconuts and letting them loose with machetes to get at the juice. I chased them around some more and let them strip off and play with the well hose and soak themselves stupid. I made them steak, roast potatoes, beans with bacon and broccoli for lunch.
Finally, exhausted, they fell asleep. I switched the TV channel from cartoons to the Afro Music channel, a truly excellent ethnic African music channel aimed at Angolan and Moxambican audiences. No stupid rap or shrilly black American female singers whining on about how their ‘Man don’ do dem no good’. Think Cuba before the revolution. The boys sighed and fell into an even deeper sleep.
Just then Dominic arrived!
‘Hello Daddy!’ he yelled in a deep voice long since broken.
‘SSSHHH!’ I hissed pointing at the sleeping boys, ‘Great to see you!’ I continued in a hoarse whisper, ‘Bloody hell, you’ve grown!’
‘Have I?’ he whispered in reply.
We stood side by side so I could prove he, at fourteen (OK, fifteen in March), was as tall as I am. He really is a lanky sod.
‘So you passed your exams, eh?’ I said, ‘I’ve been bugging your Mother about you coming to me for the hols but she said only if you passed. I knew you would, that’s why I sent the car.’
‘I know Dad. When you rang Mother this morning, she answered it on speaker and everyone heard what you said!’
‘Oh dear,’ I replied, ‘but you are here now so no harm done.’
I suppose it was a bit mean to rope the lad straight into a bit of hard work but I really wanted to crack the Jungle Juice I needed. I have steadily cut down on the whisky and am now on only half a bottle a day. I know I can do better. That way when the rowing machine and the E-cigs arrive, I can really get stuck into getting fit again and when I get my hands on the Nalmafene, I can finally put the self-induced torment of the last few years to bed. So I told Dominic about my plan.
‘Well, let’s go for it then!’ he said.
At that moment, Marcia came in, poked Alex in the ribs and asked him if he was sleeping. I couldn’t believe it. It had taken me ages to get them down and she had just destroyed all my effort. Alex leapt bolt upright.
‘Dominic!’ he yelled, waking the other two boys.
While the boys had been asleep, before Dominic’s happy arrival, I had laid out the ingredients for my new special Divert-Alcoholics-From-Alcohol drink on the dining table so that I could photograph them for my humble blog. Alex caught sight of them and exclaimed, ‘Are you making a special drink for me?’
What more support could an old soak attempting to cure himself ask for than the that of all his boys?
So we got stuck in together.
|Ginger, lemons and Limes, Cider vinegar, Sugar, Vitamin B Complex, Sugar, Water|
The main ingredient of my top secret drink is fresh ginger root. If this drink is going to work, it needs one hell of a kick. All I could get was a bagful of wild ginger root. Wild ginger is, allegedly, the very best but believe me, the stuff you get in supermarkets, the farmed kind, is a damn sight easier to deal with and I defy anyone to tell the difference once it is incorporated into a meal or, as in this case, a drink. It is impossible to peel. It comes out of the soil with half of Africa clinging to it and is so gnarled and knobbly, no peeler can get into all the nooks and crannies.
|Wild Ginger. How the hell do you peel this?|
Nothing else for it, we would have to break them up and scrub them with a stiff brush and keep rinsing them.
|They may have looked fairly clean but this is what comes off them|
|Keep scrubbing and rinsing until the water stays clean when you swirl the ginger around. |
No need to bother with peeling.
While the boys were busy with that, I sliced about a dozen lemons and limes in half and juiced them to get about two thirds of a glass.
The boys threw a few handfuls of ginger into the blender along with half a pint of water and blitzed the hell out of them. In the meantime, Dominic had sorted out a colander, a bowl to place beneath it, and lined the colander with muslin to act as a filter. While the boys blitzed and poured, Dominic squeezed. We did two blender jugs like that and then for the final, third blitz, we used the lemon juice and only enough water to keep it fluid. I added half a cup of Cider vinegar and four tablets of Vitamin B Complex, just what us Alcy’s need to stop us going insane. It was John Delaney over at Fish Creek Spinners who suggested to me a while ago I try Cider Vinegar mixed with any kind of fizzy drink so I thought it couldn’t hurt in this recipe. I wasn’t hopeful of finding any but amazingly, I scored a small bottle of cider vinegar. I can understand why he suggested Cider Vinegar, it doesn’t taste bad at all and really reeks of cider.
|Dominic adding water to the first batch|
|Mauro and Alex, still in their soccer strip, get in on the act|
|Straining the liquid through muslin|
|Squeezing the liquid out|
|Adding the lemon and lime juice to the final batch. I added four vitamin B complex tablets at this stage.|
I will get round to tiling the kitchen walls, I promise!
The resultant liquid looked the second hand tea one might see on Delhi station platforms during a mass outbreak of dysentery.
Dominic and I took a sip each.
‘It’s only a bit bitter because it hasn’t settled yet!’ I said hopefully as I cradled his heaving shoulders.
We decanted it into two empty one and a half litre plastic mineral water bottles. I reckon we got over two litres of the mix.
Now the liquid has to settle out. So we stuck the two bottles in the fridge.
‘We should leave this for at least twenty four hours’, I told Dominic.
This is what it looked like the next day. The sediment forming nicely leaving a beautiful pink and clear liquid above. A Rosé from Hell.
|Our first batch|
He gave me a look. I was disconcerted. This was my baby boy. I could tell by the timbre of his voice his balls had long since dropped and he was as tall as I was but I was nevertheless shocked to see clearly written in his eyes, ‘You wussie, go on, let’s give it a go!’
So I decanted a glass.
‘You first,’ I said.
‘No, it’s your honour,’ he replied as if we were gentlemen golfers, ‘it’s your invention.’
‘You know,’ I said, ‘this could be the greatest invention in the world of beverages since Red Bull.’
‘Try it, then,’ he said.
‘Imagine, we could have our own Formula One Team!’ I continued.
‘Get on with it!’ Dominic said.
‘We need a name,’ I said, ‘something catchy.’
‘Call it DomTom for all I care,’ said Dominic, ‘just take a swig!’
‘DomTom! That’s brilliant Dom!’ I exclaimed. ‘DomTom, Makes your Dick reach the floor!’
We both took a swig. It worked. Our legs fell off.
It is BRILLIANT!
We had to have some more. Alex, Mauro and Va Va came in and were clearly interested seeing us two standing there in the kitchen evidently enjoying the fruit of their labour so wanted a go as well. There is no alcohol in it so what the hell? We gave them a glass to try. It blew their heads off.
‘Try mixing it with Sprite,’ said Dominic.
Good idea, I thought so I hauled out a big bottle of ice cold Sprite and diluted their glass.
‘MMM!’ said Dominic before handing the glass to Va Va. Va Va drained it and Mauro got upset. We fed Mauro a shot of Devil’s Brew diluted with Sprite. He drained his glass as well.
‘Let me try it with Sprite,’ I asked Dominic. He prepped me a glass. It really was good. I gave Dom the last half of my glass. ‘This is excellent, Dad,’ he said having finished it off.
‘You aren’t going to put this recipe on your blog are you Dad?’ he asked.
‘Yes, why not?’
‘Someone could steal it. You haven’t patented it. You publish this and you are essentially giving it away.’
Dominic is fourteen years old. What the hell does he know about patent laws?
‘Dominic,’ I said, ‘You are fourteen years old, what the hell do you know about Patent Laws?’
‘If you really want to publish this you must at least make it clear that all rights are reserved. You should say that this is your invention and that you are only sharing it with your regular readers who may use the recipe for non-commercial use. Anyone infringing this will be processed.’
‘Processed?’ I asked him thinking of tins of peas.
‘Taken to court,’ he said.
‘Where the hell did you learn all this!’ I asked him.
‘At school.’ he said.
Bloody hell; no wonder Angolan workforces are so Bolshie!
So, to satisfy Dominic: “This is an amazing drink that was invented by me and a bloke I have never met, John Delaney, so all commercial rights to this astonishing beverage belong to him and me. Anyone infringing this rule will be shot. Survivors will be shot again”.
Dominic, the budding County Attorney has just told me I am not allowed to say that.
OK, so I am not saying that, I am just thinking very seriously it might be a likely outcome for anyone attempting to market the recipe without the permission of TD and myself.
I know that all the medical advice I have received suggests that it would be dangerous for me to just stop drinking alcohol in one go. Apparently I run the risk of a withdrawal syndrome which can cause seizures, hallucinations and the like (DTs). But I can’t go on like this. I was hoping to get hold of Nalmafene to help me manage the desire to drink but, sadly, I have not found a source. I was advised against importing the rowing machine until the New Year as the airport is stuffed with uncleared Christmas cargo and with the clearance delays, I would end up paying a fortune in Demurrage. Here I am with a perfectly feasible plan offering a high chance of success yet I remain foiled by circumstance and bloody rules.
Left with no other alternative, I decided to go ‘Cold Turkey’. A bottle of whisky per day to zero, just like that, and drink DomTom® instead.
This is my third alcohol free day.